Suzanne had invited Selm over to meet: a friend of hers who’d just arrived in Amsterdam to work for Frascati. The idea being that perhaps we could collaborate on the play next year.
I’d not arrived long before the meeting, and had not year been round the garden on my usual check to see everything’s ok. We moved from the pond, past Orpheus and were now approaching my shed. We turned the corner here and were met with a wall of leaves. Slightly higher than the hedge, so dense you couldn’t see though, it made an exact line between the two beech boxes. A crown of leaves stood in front of me. I was startled, I took a step back. It was as if the layout of the garden had changed overnight. Our path now blocked.
Approaching from the other side the trunk of the tree had fallen precisely along the path and in so doing blocking the access along this entire section of the garden. This auspicious land grab seemed like it had been executed with surgical precision; falling in just such a way as to impede as many of the gardens paths as possible. Were the plants fighting back against these encroaching deserts?
I took a closer look at the break, it had not been cut but fallen naturally. The tree had been affected with heart rot. A condition common to almost all trees in which fungus spoors enter the outer back of a tree and begin to grow. Moving into the centre of the trunk the fungus grows slowly feeing off the trees dead heart and in so doing weakening its structure. It’s a process that takes years.
It’s said that heart rot causes one third of the worlds annual commercial timber harvest to become unsellable. Its also said that heart rot is one of the key processes in the renewal of forest ecosystems. The fallen trees making way for new growth, their decaying trunks providing a habitat rich in biodiversity. It seems to me that this dramatic interruption could provide a striking lesson that sometimes the value is not in growth but rather in decay.
The fallen tree lay in place for almost a week before being cut into manageable sections and transported away. I don’t know where it all went; but I herd lately that a section of trunk was taken by the volunteers from the ‘river of herbs’ and is now in the process of being made into a bench.